Marketing Masters Dare You: Extract the Extraordinary

An Interview with Media Moguls Andre Fonseca and Arthur Chan

by Thomas Ahneesan

Andre Fonseca and Arthur Chan are the media moguls of FCA, a full-service marketing agency based in LA specializing in breakthrough media activations fueled by creative production and paid advertising, whose colossal clients include the likes of Netflix, Disney, and a full range of film studios. As a poet, musician, and purely creative writer, taking on the task of interviewing two award-winning marketing executives, I have to confess, I was intimidated. I imagined two buttoned-up businessmen, straightening their ties, staring blankly back at me with cups of coffee in their hands.

What I discovered was quite the opposite: two best buddies with backgrounds in MUSIC (of all things). In 2015, they quietly collided, forming an instant bond in their daring desire to dismantle the expectation to stay in your lane. They made it sound so simple— if you don’t love what you’re doing; if you’re stuck in your chair, encircled by red tape, buried in the subterfuge of bureaucracy,— break down the door and create a new narrative of success. At MediaU, we believe in the very same principle: Access for all who wish to learn, take risks with their own ideas, to bet on themselves. To achieve a career in the film and television industry, most hopefuls believe they need film school, or a degree in marketing. So how did Arthur Chan and Andre Fonseca rise up the ranks with disciplines worlds apart from where they ended up? Let’s start at the beginning.

It starts at a party.

 


 

What is the origin story of FCA? How exactly did you meet?

Andre: We met at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah when we were invited to a Boondoggle.

What the hell is a Boondoggle?

Andre: It’s a sort of trip that folks working in media are invited to under the pretense of ‘work.’ But it’s really… more of a party.

When we met our bond was instant, we knew right off we had a similar aesthetic, a way of looking at the world. We both started at media agencies, we both worked through the ranks but we weren’t in our chosen careers. Arthur is a musician. I also went to school for music. I played violin. But having creative backgrounds in music surprisingly prepared us for what we’d come to build: a platform for myriad artforms to be seen, heard, and to shine in a way that commands attention. As artists, we approach everything in a very left-brain manner. We don’t look at things with the same straight angle as someone trained to wear a business lens.

So what shifted? What shook you enough to leave jobs that so many would hope for?

Arthur: For me, it was a never-ending hustle to earn your keep with these companies. To create value that wasn’t already there. I think both of us saw that there was so much red tape. So much getting in the way of a good idea. We watched the origin of so many great ideas being lost and diluted for the sake of bureaucracy. We were saying exactly the same thing at the same time, knowing that theoretically, an ideal agency would choose to value authenticity, passion, creativity, and, ultimately, autonomy.

You call yourselves “a blessing of unicorns.” This is a poetic and daring thing to put on your official website. What makes you so rare?

Andre: How I define a unicorn is someone who has the intangibles, who has that magic spirit. That is not something that always comes with a college degree and it’s not even necessarily in work experience, but it can be informed by their actual lives. They could be great designers that have an eye for strategy. It could be an art director who just loves to brainstorm. And we put all of these folks in a room and we tell them to think without restriction.

You mentioned “moving beyond academics,” what does that mean in terms of your hiring process? What gives an applicant to FCA unicorn blood?

Andre: I like to talk about nothing that has to do with work. If we can engage in a conversation on a variety of topics in 30 minutes, I think I can gather the rest. All their resume does is dictate whether or not they can simply do the job. Their experience gets them through the door, their passion & commitment is what gets them hired.

You’re clearly proactive about getting involved without hesitation. What would you say to the students out there, the rogue agents, and the brave souls who want to change careers— to kick down doors, as you have? How do they really get started?

Andre: We aren’t saying “don’t go to school.” We both went to college. I always advise friends, even my own kids, to emphasize work experience while you’re in school. Even if it’s volunteering, interning- just getting involved any chance you get. If you’re going to school for audio engineering, offer to volunteer in someone’s studio. That is what is going to differentiate you and give you that competitive edge over anyone else. Get that work experience, even if it’s during the summer. Have fun with it. Use your talents right away, don’t wait.

You’ll need a vision coming out of school- a plan. A lot of employers don’t have time to usher folks into a cycle and give them the baby steps that work experience would have already done— no matter how small it may have seemed at the time. So that’s my answer. Don’t wait.

On your website you say, “A goal without a plan is just a wish. Let’s move beyond the academics and find the Z Space to help you win.” Can you describe what the “Z Space” means to you? I feel it is immediately recognizable as a dimension where much different things are possible. Z—the last letter of the alphabet— the last thing you’d think of, may be the very thing that sets you free.

Arthur: That’s exactly it. Everybody is either taught or they automatically think a certain way: X, Y—two dimensionally— trying to solve for those things. When you explore the Z space, you get to a much bigger, broader, deeper solution. So we say, let’s “explode the Z Space.”

Andre: I remember when we were first talking about the Z space. We were working together, talking about turning a graphic two dimensionally and Arthur said, “No, let’s move it three dimensionally, so people can see inside of the space. That is the Z Space. Something no one had thought of yet. It’s a great metaphor for how we got here.

On their clean, minimalistic website, the most prominent message urges the reader: CONTACT US. It seems to fit their entire philosophy in two words. It harkens back to the moment FCA was snapped into reality when the two said, “Alright. Let’s do this.”

Explode the Z Space. Gatekeepers be damned.

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